The Supreme Court yesterday cleared the way for the government to recover the land of Turag river from illegal possession of Nishut Jute Mills Ltd of Hameem Group, and Hossain Dyeing and Printing Mills Ltd of Anwar Group.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order after hearing two separate appeals filed by Nishut Jute Mills Ltd and Hossain Dyeing and Printing Mills Ltd challenging a High Court verdict on this issue.
Following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), the HC on February 3 last year declared the Turag a “legal person” and a “living entity” and also directed the authorities concerned to free the river from all kinds of encroachment.
Later, Nishut Jute Mills Ltd and Hossain Dyeing and Printing Mills Ltd filed separate appeals with the SC challenging the HC verdict.
Yesterday, the apex court disposed of both the appeals.
HRPB’s lawyer Manzill Murshid told The Daily Star that there is no legal bar for the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BITWA) to demolish and remove structures illegally built on the land of Turag river following the SC order.
He said the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Gazipur has submitted a probe report before the HC on October 11, 2017 saying that Nishut Jute Mills has occupied 150 feet by 170 feet of land and Hossain Dyeing and Printing Mills has occupied 159 feet by 166 feet of land of the river.
The HC delivered the verdict after accepting the probe report, Murshid said.
He also said the SC yesterday expunged a part of the HC verdict that declared the lease of the land of Turag river by Nishut Jute Mills Ltd “void ab initio” meaning invalid from the outset.
Advocate M Asaduzzaman, a lawyer for Nishut Jute Mills Ltd, however, told this correspondent that the lease obtained by his client over the land from the government is valid following the SC order.
The authorities can demolish the illegal structures, if there is any on the land of Nishut Jute Mills Ltd, he added.
Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud also appeared for Nishut Jute Mills Ltd, while Barrister Mohammad Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury appeared for Hossain Dyeing and Printing Mills, and Advocate Mafizur Rahman represented the BIWTA.